Saturday, July 15, 2017
Last week I was angry, as you may have sensed in my blog. Our house had vandalized, my computer stolen and trust broken. Thank you all for your emails, calls and messages of support. I apologize that I have not responded to many of you, but alas, I have no laptop. A new one is arriving with my friend David on Monday and then I will start to catch up on two weeks of work.
These past two weeks have been a real journey in our faith. Neither Ian nor I are fearful people. Heck, we moved to Africa, right? We have never been afraid in Africa, we have felt safe and protected in the tiny Kingdom of Swaziland, but after our home was vandalized things changed.
After the break in we wouldn’t leave the house without closing the gates and turning on the electric fencing. We started to hide electronic devices after every use, and our nights became restless, filled with dreams of snakes, polar bears and cars sinking in deep lakes.
Fear is not of the Lord, and each day we would spend time in prayer and in the Word rebuking the fear that had come over us, but we are human, and it lingered. And we were angry.
I don’t like feeling angry and I really don’t like feeling afraid. Those are two of the absolutely worst emotions for me personally, but we prayed, and prayed and prayed. I am not sure what happened late last week, but my anger went away, I chose to forgive the thieves who violated our space and it seemed that by releasing my anger, fear was taken away.
In the midst of this emotional and spiritual battle we had three little boys come to live at Project Canaan. All of them arrived severely malnourished. Little Jesse is 1-year-old, little Barry is 11-months-old and little Jonathan will be 2-years-old on July 27th. All three are developmentally delayed, but Jonathan, who arrived yesterday, is in the worst shape.
Jonathan weights 6.5 kg/14 pounds (and yes, he is almost 2-years-old). He is skin and bones, has a weeping ear infection, a fever, HIV/AIDS related bumps/lumps and skin lesions. His hemoglobin is 4.9 and his teeth are rotten and disintegrating.
As I reflect back on my last two weeks, I can’t help but give thanks that I have the privilege of being here in Swaziland and to be chosen to drive and pick up each of these little boys. I have the privilege to pray over them, cry over them, care for them and love them back to life. I also have the privilege to care for and love the Aunties and Uncles who do the heavy lifting each and every day.
Fear and anger are not welcome in my life. I have been freed, and for that I am eternally grateful.
Living aboard is hard at the best of times, but as I often say, living in Africa is not for sissies.
Live from Swaziland … driving to Johannesburg to pick up Chloe from the airport!!!
Saturday, July 8, 2017
Last Sunday while we were at Children’s Church with 159 orphaned/abandoned children and our staff, our house was vandalized. They tried to get in to Chloe’s room using a crowbar, but the steel doors only bent, they did not break open. Then they moved to the kitchen window, which is made of shatterproof glass, and viciously attacked the window, only to find no latch on the inside to open it. Then they tried another steel window and final destroyed the doors to our living room and entered our home.
They opened every drawer, looked in every cupboard, obviously in search for money, but there was none. They left the house, doors wide open, taking my laptop, another laptop, a chainsaw out of the garage and a few other useless (to them) items.
We are quite certain that this was an “inside job”, and that perpetrators know us very well, and know our dogs very well. We have reported this to the Police, the Chief and the Community Police.
Since this happened my world has been turned upside down. I guess I am still in shock, but I am not dealing with this well. My brain is stuck in a spin cycle of trying to understand why people would do this. Why the violence? Why the betrayal? And now the whole community has started in the spin. People are pointing fingers at each other from the Supervisor level to the gardener. Everyone has a theory, an accusation, a suspicion and everyone is angry about the attack on us.
Ian put out a substantial reward for the capture and conviction of the thieves and the return of our laptops. This has caused havoc in the community, with people crawling on top of each other to point fingers. The traditional healers (some might call them Witch doctors) are busier than ever with individuals seeking “muti” (special potion to bring strength, knowledge, power) so that they can be given a vision as to where the laptops are and then be able to collect the reward. We have even heard that one department at PC has taken up a collection of funds to collectively go to the Witch doctor so that he can help them find our laptops and the vandals.
As a a follower of Jesus, and as someone working in Christian ministry, I can’t even begin to get my head around this. Many of the people involved in this are also followers of Jesus, but, I guess, want to cover all their bases in the return of our valuables?
I am frozen. My head feels like a computer screen that has frozen. It needs a hard shut down and reboot, but I don’t know how to do that.
I am rarely at a loss for words, but I can’t yet find the words to express how I am really feeling. Betrayed, hurt, discouraged, angry, heart-broken, despondent?
As I have spent most of the week alone and in prayer, I also know, with all my heart and soul, that God saw the thieves, He allowed them to break in to our home, and He knows where they are now. He sees their hearts and He weeps for them, just as He weeps for me when I screw up.
We were protected (we weren’t home at the time), and Jesus is still securely on the throne.
Police and social welfare officers tell us daily that the crime rate is escalating in Swaziland. This was predicted by the former Deputy Prime Minister of Swaziland when he told us that he feared the day when the tens of thousands of children who had been orphaned a decade ago would become teenagers and young adults. They would have no moral fibre to keep them on a good path, no jobs to support themselves, no love to keep them safe and no hope for their future. He feared what would happen then.
Someone asked me this week, “How could ‘these people’ do this to you when you are here doing all these things for them? You give them jobs, love, food, clothing – why would they bite the hand that feeds them?”
My response was quick (in fact so quick that it surprised me). We are not here to serve the Swazi people or the Swazi children. We are here to serve God, and Him alone. He has given us a hard assignment, and one that does not come without sacrifice and danger. But He is our protectors, always. And for that we give thanks, and go on.
Please pray for me, for Ian, for the safety of our children, staff, volunteers and please pray for Swaziland.
Live from Swaziland … I am not sleeping well so this blog is a very early post.
PS – thank you to the friend who quickly contacted me and offered to replace my laptop. I love you, always.
Saturday, July 1, 2017
|Who would have thought? (Circa 1984)|
Who would have thought that a little girl, affectionately known as “Janny-Lynn Willis”, born to an unwed 15-year-old girl in Northern Ontario, Canada in 1963, would grow up to become the mother to 159 Swazi children?
Who would have thought that Janny-Lynn would be sent off to boarding school, where she would meet a young man whom she would marry 11 years later, and he would grow up to be the father to 159 children?
Who would have thought that God would bring together a girl with a mind for marketing/communications with a boy who had a mind for number/operations, have them run a successful marketing company for 16 years, and then send them to Africa to start a home for abandoned babies and farm?
Who had even heard of Swaziland, Africa all those years ago?
We often say, “We can’t make this stuff up”. And we really can’t.
The Message bible translation of Jeremiah 1:5 says,
shaped you in the womb,
I knew all about you.
Before you saw the light of day,
I had holy plans for you:
A prophet to the nations—
that’s what I had in mind for you.”
Isn’t that cool??
Today is Canada’s 150th birthday, and while I was only 3.5-years-old when Canada turned 100, I distinctly remember the “theme song” that played over and over on the airwaves. “Ca-na-da … (one little, two little, three Canadians), we love thee (now we are 20 million)” and on and on it went. (I had to Google it to prove it to Ian - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=18-oRTLIe3I).
Ian thinks it’s very funny that I remember a jingle from 50 years ago – clearly the Lord designed me in a certain way, and “knew all about me”. He knows all about you too. Isn’t that cool? What is asking you to do today? What has he been asking you to do for a while, that you have been putting off? As the old ad says, “Just DO IT” – otherwise you will miss the blessing that He has in store for you.
Who would have thought that we would be celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday in Africa with our 159 Swazi children? Not me, that's for sure.
Live from Swaziland … Happy birthday Canada! My home and native land.